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In November 2002, the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General on Internal Displacement made a series of recommendations to the Turkish government.83 The proposals currently on the table, together with the Compensation Law, have the potential to address the SRSG’s recommendations in large measure, provided that they are implemented quickly and thoroughly. However, the cold fact is that more than two years after the SRSG’s report, the government has yet to show any concrete achievements for IDPs. The Return to Village and Rehabilitation Program is still little more than an empty shell, villagers have yet to receive compensation, and there is no formal collaboration or partnership with intergovernmental or nongovernmental organizations. Village guards still bear arms, kill their neighbours, and block returns in safety and in dignity. A substantial number of villagers have returned, but mainly on the strength of their own meagre resources, and only for the summer months because the government has not provided the infrastructure for them to settle permanently.

If the government operationalizes its planned IDP agency, develops a credible plan for demobilizing the village guard system, participates in the UNDP project, and uses the Compensation Law to channel funds toward IDPs rather than as a bureaucratic scheme for withholding resources, it will have convincingly changed course. Whether it is ready to do this will become clear during 2005. Extremely close scrutiny by the relevant U.N. bodies and the E.U. throughout this critical year significantly increases the likelihood of progress. Without critical interest from the international community, an injection of a sense of urgency and sharp reminders of the standards contained by the U.N. Guiding Principles, there is a risk that the Turkish state’s well-established do-nothing policy will reassert itself and IDPs will be disappointed once again.

[83] Report of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on internally displaced persons, Mr. Francis Deng, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/56, E/CN.4/2003/86/Add.2, November 27, 2002.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>March 2005